Take the 60-Second Test: Do You Lead by Example?

by The Architect on Jan 30, 2018

The way we learn from people whom we admire as leaders is mysterious.

They kind of ‘imprint’ on us in ways we don’t even notice ourselves. Leadership is viral, in a sense. We learn by ‘emulating’ those we want to be like. If you want people to behave a certain way, don’t tell them to do it. Model the way yourself.

We tune out what people say if there is a dissonance – a discord – between what they say and what they do. So, you actually communicate as a leader by ‘doing’, not by ‘saying’. As Thomas Edison put it, “What you are will not show in what you do.”

So, how are YOU doing? Here's the 60-second test (from John Adair's book 'Adair on Leadership'):

  • Do you ask others to do what you would be unwilling to do yourself? Yes/No
  • Do people comment on the good example you set in your work? Yes/No
  • Do your (bad) examples conflict with what you are trying to get others to do? Yes/No
  • Can you remember when you last deliberately set out to lead by example? Yes/No
  • Do you mention the importance of example to leaders who report to you? Yes/No

Lead By Example

Leadership happens in the moment, and at every level in the business.

This is why it's so important to be in touch with other Leaders

You might be aware of great examples of leadership you actively try to emulate yourself.

But we often miss this connection between our actions and those of the leaders we have been following in the organisation... The skills (and baggage) we have picked up subconsciously.

And we are almost never aware of our own actions, and how they might change those who follow us.

I was left wondering how many moments of leadership have I shown or enabled others to show in the last week? I'm sure I could have done more. A Senior Executive in one of our Leadership communities

This is why it's so important to be in touch with other Leaders

Digital learning networks, communities of practice, can have such powerful results.

Leading by Example

Yes, there's online groups with Slack, Jive, GITHub, Facebook etc. that allow collaborative work. But we've found that without the proper curation those great leadership examples, the things people have done throughout the organisation that we want to resonate, disappear without having a light shone on them for others to find.

And they miss the GREATEST example that Leaders can set to others: showing that Leaders are always learning.

When Leaders from every tier of the organisation with years of experience come in and say 'I have learned something new today', they are holding themselves up as examples to lead by, whether they realise it or not. That's how a culture of learning becomes established.

Here's a quote for next time you're wondering about your own impact:

Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach. Rosabeth Moss Kantor

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